Displaying 1 - 20 of 1844

Outrage grows at scale of UK development assistance cuts; funding for UNFPA, UNAIDS cut by over 80%, UNICEF by 60%

Outrage has been growing about the UK government’s development assistance budget cuts, as details continue to emerge about the programs and partners that are affected.

In November of 2020, the UK government decided to temporarily reduce its official development assistance (ODA) budget to 0.5% of its gross national income in 2021 (from 0.7% in 2020), with funding cuts of around £4.0 billion (US$5.4 billion) compared to 2019 volumes. The government’s decision to cut the budget was in response to the economic impact of COVID-19.

According to reports in newspapers with recently-emerged details, the UK will cut its funding to:

  • The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the UN’s sexual and reproductive health agency, which has been reduced by 85% from £154 million (US$206 million) to £23 million (US$40 million);
  • The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), which is to be cut from over 80% from £15 million (US$20 million) to £3 million (US$3 million);
  • The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which has been cut by 60% from £40 million (US$53 million) in 2020 to £16 million (US$21 million) in 2021;
  • The Global Polio Eradication Initiative, which has been cut by 95% with funding reduced from £100 million (US$134 million) to £5 million (US$7 million) in 2021; and
  • Water, sanitation, and hygiene projects in partner countries, which are reported as being cut by 80%.

It also appears that the Small Charities Challenge Fund, the Community Partnerships Fund, UK Aid Connect, UK Aid Direct Impact, and the UK Partnerships for Health Systems programs have been canceled entirely, according to NGOs that receive money through these funds.

Civil society and members of parliament have said that the depth of the cuts puts lives at risk and diminishes UK global leadership on international development, in the very year when the UK is hosting the G7 and the UN Climate Change Conference, COP26.

News article - Devex

News article - The Guardian

News article - BBC

As COVID-19 outbreak ravages India, Germany flies in medical experts, US$60 million in supplies

A German military aircraft arrived in India on May 1, 2021, delivering 120 ventilators and a team of 13 medical experts. This delivery marked the start of Germany's promised support with €50 million (US$60 million) worth of supplies for India in combating the deadly outbreak of of COVID-19 infections in recent weeks.

The team of 13 experts will set up and operate mobile oxygen production units over the next two weeks and support the Indian Red Cross Society on site. The German Foreign Minister, Heiko Maas, said that Germany will provide further supplies needed by India to fight the rapidly escalating outbreak, and Maas emphasized the deep Indian-German friendship.

Germany is among many countries, including the US and the UK, that has been providing support for India over the last few days, mostly in the form of oxygen, drugs, and personal protective equipment.

According to the EU Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen, the EU has started to pool resources provided by member states via the EU Civil Protection Mechanism to respond to India’s request for support. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism was set up in 2001 by the European Commission for emergency cases in which response capabilities of a country were overwhelmed and coordinated support by other countries was needed.

News article - Deutsche Welle

News article - Deutsche Welle

UK sends oxygen supplies to help India combat deadly COVID-19 outbreak

The UK government is increasing its assistance to India as the country battles an overwhelming spike of COVID-19 infections.

The UK government has sent 495 oxygen concentrators and 200 ventilators from surplus stock to India. It is also sending three oxygen generation units, each of which is the size of a shipping container and is capable of producing 500 liters of oxygen per minute.

Press release - UK government

Spain and Mexico strengthen cooperation to tackle COVID-19 crisis worldwide

On April 30, 2021, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (MAUC), Arancha González Laya, met with the Mexican Secretary for External Relations, Marcelo Ebrard, to review current global challenges and advance bilateral cooperation partnerships.

As a result of the meeting, Spain and Mexico decided to strengthen collaborations to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and to foster equal and universal access to new vaccines, treatments, and other health goods. González and Ebrard also aligned strongly on other development areas, such as addressing gender equality and the climate emergency.

Press release – MAUC (in Spanish)

Sweden adopts US$385 million 2021-2024 development cooperation strategy for Afghanistan

On April 29, 2021, the Swedish government adopted a new strategy for its development cooperation with Afghanistan for 2021-2024 which amounts to SEK 3.3 billion (US$385 million).

Sweden will focus its support on strengthening democracy, gender equality, and human rights, as well as on promoting education, health, economic development, and peacebuilding.

Sweden’s Minister for International Development Cooperation, Per Olsson Fridh, said that the strategy reflected Sweden's long-term commitment to Afghanistan, saying, “There is great political uncertainty, but our support strengthens the forces that want to safeguard the achievements made over the last twenty years."

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

Netherlands adopts motion on vaccine patent sharing through C-TAP

On April 29, 2021, the Dutch parliament adopted a parliamentary motion asking the Dutch government to ensure that pharmaceutical companies share their information on COVID-19 vaccines through the COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP).

The motion was submitted by Dutch member of parliament (MP) Lisa Westerveld of the Green-Left party (GroenLinks) and co-submitted by MPs Jan Paternotte of Democrats 66 (D66), Lilianne Ploumen of the Labour Party (PvdA), Lilian Marijnissen of the Socialist Party (SP), Mirjam Bikker of the Christian Union (CU), and Laurens Dassen of Volt. The motion received 122 out of 150 votes in the parliament.

In addition to the motion, Westerveld submitted parliamentary questions regarding the Dutch government's global vaccination efforts. The parliamentary questions directed to the Dutch Minister of Health, Hugo de Jonge, and the Minister of Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, Sigrid Kaag, aimed to clarify how the Dutch government will support COVAX, the global vaccine initiative, in its future goals.

Westerveld also asked de Jonge and Kaag if the Dutch government sees possibilities to encourage pharmaceutical companies to share their knowledge through C-TAP and whether the Netherlands has already made plans to work with the Belgian government on the revocation of vaccine patents, as has been proposed by the Belgian Minister of Development Cooperation and the Belgian government.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)

US to send US$100 million in COVID-19 assistance to India

As India continued to break new COVID-19 case records, the US agreed to send US$100 million in pandemic-related assistance.

The shipments included 15 million N95 masks, one million rapid diagnostic tests, and 1,100 refillable oxygen cylinders, in addition to therapeutics and vaccine manufacturing supplies.

The federal supplies will also be supplemented by deliveries from states, private companies, and non-profits to help India address its spiking pandemic needs.

The US announced last week that it would start sharing its AstraZeneca vaccines with other countries, including India, as soon as the US Food and Drug Administration had granted emergency approval for the vaccine. 

News article - Axios

Press release - The White House

EU to sign deal for 1.8 billion doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccines with more flexibility for dose donations

The EU is set to sign a new deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for an additional 1.8 billion doses of their COVID-19 vaccine, which will provide more flexibility for the EU to resell or donate doses. 

While the deal is set to help provide for different scenarios in which the EU would require more vaccine doses, such as if booster shots are needed or for vaccinating children, it will also enable the EU to engage more in ‘vaccine diplomacy’ through donating doses to low- and middle-income countries with lower access to vaccines.

The European Commission has said it will create a vaccine-sharing mechanism to help facilitate donations from EU member states. 

News article - The New York Times

Former UN Ambassador Samatha Power confirmed to head USAID, role to be elevated to US National Security Council

By a bipartisan vote, former UN Ambassador Samantha Power was confirmed as Administrator to the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The vote in the Senate was 68-26 and was met with enthusiasm from development groups and her new colleagues, including US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.  

In a first for a USAID Administrator, her role will be elevated to be a part of the US National Security Council.

Power addressed her priorities in her confirmation hearing in March 2021, saying that she would aim to enhance USAID's work addressing food security, education, gender equality, global health, as well as the "interconnected and gargantuan" current global issues of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate emergency, state collapse, and "democratic backsliding",

News article - CNN

As infections spike, Norway allocates US$2 million to India for COVID-19 response

Norway has allocated NOK 20 million (US$2 million) to India to tackle the COVID-19 crisis, given through the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, as well as the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The current infection spike in India has resulted in some of the highest numbers of COVID-19 cases per day and COVID-19-related deaths. The health system is under immense pressure, and the country has asked the international community for assistance to get control of the situation.

While the WHO plays an essential role in distributing medical equipment to support an effective response to the current crisis, the Red Cross helps local communities across India with managing emergency response centers, ambulance services with oxygen facilities, information campaigns, hygiene packs, and protective equipment. 

The Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) partnership has also chosen to establish a COVID-19 Oxygen Emergency Taskforce. The partnership is co-chaired by Norway, and the aim of the newly launched taskforce is to ensure access to oxygen supplies in low-income countries.

Several stakeholders, such as Unitaid and the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria are involved in the taskforce. The Global Fund has, through its COVID-19 Response Mechanism, given over US$11 million to the taskforce to finance oxygen products. Norway has invested NOK 286 million (US$34 million) in the COVID-19 Response Mechanism.  

Press release - The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Press release - The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Canada commits US$8 million in humanitarian assistance to India

Canada's Minister of International Development, Karina Gould, has announced CA$10 million (US$8 million) in humanitarian assistance funding to support India's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, following infection numbers drastically spiking in the country.

This funding will go to the Canadian Red Cross, which will help India's Red Cross procure medicines and supplies, including oxygen cylinders for health centers and ambulances.

Press release - Global Affairs Canada

European Parliament adopts 2021-2027 EU research program, Horizon Europe, with strong focus on health, climate crisis, digitalization

The European Parliament overwhelmingly voted to adopt Horizon Europe, the EU’s new €95.5 billion (US$113.6 billion) research program for 2021-2027, which has a strong focus on research and innovation for global challenges like the climate emergency, digitalization, and the COVID-19 crisis. 

Horizon Europe consists of three pillars:

  1. Excellent Science;
  2. Global Challenges and European Industrial Competitiveness; and
  3. Innovative Europe.

The program has applied since January 1, 2021, when it was provisionally put in place by the European Commission. 

Press release - European Parliament

Australia to supply COVID-19 equipment, PPE to India

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne has announced that Australia will provide emergency supplies to India to help its COVID-19 response following the recent spike of infections in the country.

500 ventilators will be initially provided, with a capacity to eventually deploy 3,000. Personal protective equipment (PPE), including one million surgical masks and 500,000 other protective masks, will be supplied.

Australia is also procuring 100 oxygen concentrators for use by India.

Press release - Foreign Minister for Australia

US to share up to 60 million AstraZeneca vaccines globally, raw vaccine supplies to India

The Biden administration announced that it will share 60 million doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses with other countries. The administration said that the vaccine will become available after the US Federal Drug Administration (FDA) approves it for emergency use.  

The FDA is expected to approve the AstraZeneca vaccine in the next few weeks and the US will then donate the supplies to other countries. The distribution plan is still in development.

The US also announced it will share raw vaccine materials with India, which has become a current outbreak hot spot. A spokesperson also indicated that the US will provide India with personal protective equipment, tests, therapeutics, and other respiratory equipment. 

News article - AP

Australian government exploring paths to send oxygen, ventilators to India as COVID-19 outbreak worsens

Australian Health Minister, Greg Hunt, is seeking oxygen supplies from Australia’s state governments to support Indian hospitals that are running low on supplies due to India becoming a current COVID-19 hot spot.

Hunt also indicated that Australia’s federal government could donate non-invasive ventilators to India, which could be sourced from a currently unused supply that was purchased last year in case of high numbers of COVID-19 infections.

News article - ABC News

Norway calls for long-term financing solutions for global health security

Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg made a statement at the Virtual United Nations Dialogue on Pandemic Preparedness and Response Architecture, emphasizing that global health security is a global public good and a social, economic, and security issue that needs long-term financing solutions.  

Solberg called for clearer international norms and standards, better coordination to develop and distribute technologies and tools, and support for capacity building. She also emphasized the role and importance of a fully-financed World Health Organization with operational independence.  

As co-chair of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) Facilitation Council, Norway has taken part in developing a framework for how the contributors can all share the cost of getting ACT-A fully financed. Norway will work to facilitate discussions on a financing mechanism for global health security.  

Transcript – The Norwegian government  

COVID-19 crisis has hampered fight against malaria, warns German development minister

Speaking on World Malaria Day on April 25, 2021, the German Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, warned that preventing the spread of malaria has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 crisis and that more attention is needed to fight malaria.

Müller noted that malaria deaths in 2020 had increased by 100,000 compared to previous years’ rates. The main drivers for this increase included the shift of essential medical resources and healthcare workers to the fight against COVID-19 and disruptions in supply chains, said Müller.

The number of malaria patients receiving treatment decreased in 2020 by 60% in Asia and by 15% in Africa since the beginning of the pandemic. Malaria infections are often fatal, especially for children, but can be prevented and treated by mosquito nets, pesticides, and drugs. However, access to these resources has been limited due to supply shortfalls caused by the ongoing pandemic.

In recognition of the pandemic’s disruption of malaria treatment, the German government channeled an additional €140 million (US$170 million) to the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria in 2021.

News article – Deutsche Welle (in German)

Press release – Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)

EU Council reaffirms solidarity in global fight against COVID-19 crisis

The Council of the EU released conclusions reaffirming Team Europe’s (made up of the European Commission, EU member states, the European Investment Bank, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) commitment to global solidarity in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic and its social and economic impacts.

The Council called for an inclusive and green post-pandemic recovery and for EU development funds to be programmed to support a transformative impact that is aligned with the development needs of EU partner countries. 

Conclusions - Council of the EU

Finance in Common Summit in Italy will bring together public development banks to contribute toward COVID-19 response and tackling climate crisis

The second edition of the Finance in Common Summit (FiCS) will be held in the autumn of 2021 in Rome, Italy, within the framework of Italy's Presidency of the G20, to focus on the contribution of public development banks to the transformation of agriculture for food security, adaptation to climate change, and protection of biodiversity. 

It will be hosted by Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) (the Italian National Promotional Institution and Financial Institution for Development Cooperation) in partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), with support from the members of the Finance in Common Coalition. The event will bring together over 450 public development banks and other stakeholders with the goal of providing financing for COVID-19 response, economic recovery, and measures tackling the climate crisis in line with the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The first edition of the FiCS was held in November 2020 with the goal of contributing to climate and sustainable development. It was co-organized by the World Federation of Development Finance Institutions (WFDFI) and the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), along with the French Development Agency (AFD).

Press release - Finance in Common

Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour and Welfare and WHO Director-General discuss priorities, strengthen collaboration

On April 23, 2021, Japan’s Minister of Health, Labour, and Welfare, Norihisa Tamura, and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Director-General, Tedros Adhanom, held a video conference to discuss priorities and to strengthen collaboration between Japan and the WHO.

Japan will host the Gavi COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) Summit, the WHO Western Pacific Regional Committee, and Tokyo Nutrition Summit this year.

Tamura emphasized that preparation for health crises, universal health coverage, nutrition, aging, and antimicrobial resistance among Japan’s priorities. Japan will continue to promote global access to the COVID-19 vaccine through the COVAX Facility, the global vaccine initiative co-led by the WHO. Tamura also noted that the WHO has few Japanese staff members, so Japan aims to increase its involvement of WHO members. 

Tedros highlighted the importance of strengthening cooperation between Japan and WHO to promote international health, including in the global response to COVID-19.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)